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Reviews

Insight on the latest books, films, theater, and music.

New Books

Members of the Moorish Science Temple of America at an annual gathering, 1928 Courtesy Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Public Library Last summer, Philadelphia proclaimed…

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To Rebel Is Justified

On the long shadow of Maoism

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Through Clenched Teeth

The cold, frenzied genius of Kleist

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A View to a Krill

The first history of the most remote ocean

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New Books

Design for a grotesque mask by Johann Ulrich Stapf © Victoria and Albert Museum, London Witch hunts have always been a tool of those in power. As such, they shed…

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Fun with Problems

The life of Robert Stone

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New Books

There’s much to be said for being maladjusted. More and more, perhaps, as the environment to which one is expected to adjust becomes more ruinous. The climate activist Greta Thunberg…

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Dearest Lizzie

The end of a literary marriage

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Selective Hearing

On the specious new history podcasts

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Existential Noir

Discussed in this essay: A Dream Come True: The Collected Stories of Juan Carlos Onetti, by Juan Carlos Onetti. Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver. Archipelago Books. 547 pages.…

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Salka the Salonnière

Discussed in this essay: The Kindness of Strangers, by Salka Viertel. New York Review Books.368 pages. $17.95. The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden…

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New Books

Discussed in this essay: Cleanness, by Garth Greenwell. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 240 pages. $26. Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War, by Vincent Brown. Harvard University Press. 336 pages. $35.  Of…

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Burning Down the House

Discussed in this essay: Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright, by Paul Hendrickson. Knopf. 624 pages. $35. Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t just the greatest of…

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New Books

  Questions about the future of Islam in Europe tend to revolve around “Europeans,” reflexively imagined as native-born and white. If reactionary nationalists fear the influence of an “alien” culture,…

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Autobiography of an Ex-Black Man

Discussed in this essay: Self-Portrait in Black and White, by Thomas Chatterton Williams. W. W. Norton. 192 pages. $25.95. What a strange thing is “race,” and family, stranger still. —Elizabeth…

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New Books

On the morning of my friend’s funeral, my period arrived two weeks early and with a sudden force that ruined the black clothing I’d brought and the rickety chair I…

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How to Read the Bible

What is the Bible for? In his new history of “the world’s most influential book,” the Anglican theologian John Barton argues that neither Christianity nor Judaism is an essentially “scriptural”…

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Where We Live Now

Poetry at its best may speak to you no matter where or when you live. “There is no Frigate like a Book,” Emily Dickinson claimed, “to take us Lands away.”…

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New Books

There are no men in the densely civilized galaxy of Samuel R. Delany’s 1984 novel Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. Everybody—whether human or extraterrestrial, and on all but…

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Novel, Essay, Poem

Discussed in this essay: The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 304 pages. $27. Ben Lerner’s third novel, The Topeka School, opens in the late 1990s, when…

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The Radical Conservative

Discussed in this essay: Henrik Ibsen: The Man and the Mask, by Ivo de Figueiredo. Translated from the Norwegian by Robert Ferguson. Yale University Press. 704 pages. $40. In early…

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New Books

“Not a great writer, though a pleasant one” was Vladimir Nabokov’s verdict on Ivan Turgenev, the first Russian novelist to make an impact abroad. Nabokov—­who once complained about Henry James’s…

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Murder Italian Style

The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40. In a quiet northern suburb of Rome, a woman hears noises in the street and sends her…

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An American in the Treetops

Discussed in this essay: Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, by George Packer. Alfred A. Knopf. 592 pages. $30. Few American diplomats have been so…

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New Books

In the lofty Polish hamlet of Luftzug, the skies are low, the winters harsh, and the cell signal perpetually uncertain of its nationality. The highlight of the social calendar is…

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Bette on the Blues

“I  should explain right away that I didn’t belong here,” writes Bette Howland (1937–2017) in her 1974 memoir, W-­3. “But that goes without saying, no one belonged here.” The “here”…

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Maigret All Day

In 1929, the Belgian novelist Georges Simenon (1903–89), at the time living in Paris and making good money producing, at a rate of three or four per month, semipornographic romances…

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May 2020